mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)
Cetain people out there might remember the following concept album track listing, and go on a bit of a nostalgia trip, like I just did when I opened  a notebook found while sorting a pile of ancient junk.

  1. All Trolls Are Blue
  2. Unchivalrous War Machines
  3. Planet Dance
  4. How Many Emmeline's To A Grand-Pa?
  5. Hayworth Riding The Astrolabe
  6. One Red Dog Gives You Crayons
  7. Like A Telesocpe
  8. Holly "Sweeps" Over
  9. His Bat-Like Wings Covered In Snow
  10. Three Giant's Pass
  11. The Mountain Swallows The Ship
  12. Slidin', Ridin' Grand-Pa
  13. Under The Mountain
  14. See Them Crying Thru The Stone
  15. Drake Over Ice
  16. Lambeth Circles The Tower
  17. Nocker Knockin'
  18. Behind Enemy Lines  or  We're Not Fighing The Dwarves, the Dwarves Are Fighting Us!

Slow Day

May. 27th, 2011 10:39 am
mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)
We've fixed all the bugs. Now we just have to wait to deply the damn thing. So let's clear a few tabs from my browser. 

Top Ten Myths about the brain  This article should be publicized on nation-wide TV! Especially the last one.  (hat tip : [personal profile] threemonkeys )

music by Googe. This looks interesting. Am signing up for the beta. I most interested in what their client will be like, as reportedly it will import from both iTunes and Windows Media Player.

Go Tejas!  Civil disobedience against the TSA at the state level.

Big Crazy Gun! I love the design of the Chrysler TV-8

Boozy Office Party Results in Super-Conductor! 

Viruses harnessed to split water This is a bit older, but it has Angela Belcher again, demonstrating a virus-templated catalyst solution.

TermKit  Modern UNIX Admiinstration using WebKit

Get Your Game On  Web-based  Sports Administration by someone you may know

Chest of Colours Nice miniatures site.

mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)
Things I've seen on the web over the last two weeks that are far more important than either Kate & William's marriage or Osama Bin Laden's death. (Since when did the births, deaths, and marriages section become the headlines anyway?) Oh, alrght, I included the last two for fun, they're not really all that important. Though the Zombie proof house might end up being more important...

mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)
Cameron McKechnie pointed out in a Facebook comment on Will Marshall's journal :
Yes that's right viewing a web page breaks this copy right law, let alone any activity that results in a client side cache like browsers and etc. Lets take it the other way and build a web server that stores the MAC address and starting going after anyone that looks at it (company or individual) and get sure there's several and its all legal and sweet as rain by the new copyright law about to become effective. Legal to then Copyright Trolling in New Zealand and sure bets the hell out of Patent Trolling like they have in the US.

I thought surely this can't be right ? Surely the bill would define file-sharing more accurately?

But no. Here's the definition of file sharing from the relevant section 122A :

file sharing is where—

  • (a) material is uploaded via, or downloaded from, the Internet using an application or network that enables the simultaneous sharing of material between multiple users; and

  • (b) uploading and downloading may, but need not, occur at the same time

infringement means an incidence of file sharing that involves the infringement of copyright in a work, or part of a work, by a user

The internet is itself a "network" that "enables the simultaneous sharing of material between multiple users", a web server is also an "application" that "enables the simultaneous sharing of material between multiple users", and in order to read a web page, the web browser must "download" the page. There is no clause that says the "application" in question must be on the infringer's machine, or that the term "network" excludes the web or the internet itself.

This means any viewing of web pages that do not explicitly give the user permission to copy them automatically constitutes an infringement under this poorly draughted law.

There doesn't even need to be an explicit copyright statement on the page to trigger this, as under the Berne convention copyright automatically applies. In fact, only an explicit statement of permisison to copy, in one form or another, will make your web content legally readable by the masses. So, seeing as I'm not a bastard :

Creative Commons Licence
NZ File-sharing Law Makes Using Your Browser An Infringement
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

There are no further clarifications or restrictions of these statements in the rest of the bill. Probably because the representatives of commercial rights-holder organizations didn't want to be restricted by any more specific definitions that would later become obsolete. But in their desire to have maximum coverage, they have effectively created a law that is too general to ever be workable, and one which can be used against them, because in order for them to discover a file-sharing infringement, they will have to go onto the web and infringe the law themselves.
mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)
I've never really got round to reading Diana Wynne-Jones, perhaps because all the covers I've seen have been silly-looking, as if the stories were written for three-year olds who happen to read chapter books. I did read Howl's Moving Castle, but only after Miyazaki decided to make it into a movie. I think I read maybe one other over the years, because nothing about them ever grabbed me enough to make me want to read them all that much.

Still, what I discovered from her death was that thru her, I, and many of my freinds are only twice removed from J.R.R.Tolkien, C.S.Lewis, & Beatrix Potter. There is this really good Guardian obituary, where it states that Wynne-Jones and her siblings had been slapped by Beatrix Potter, and that she studied under Lewis & Tolkien. And then there was Neil Gaiman's remembrances of her. Many of you reading this will have met Neil.

Us to Neil, Neil to  Wynne-Jones, Wynne-Jones to Potter, Tolkein & Lewis. I wouldn't be surprised if Dunsany and Peake could be included in that linkage somewhere. All of modern English fantasy no more than three relationships away. Probably we could link in all of modern American fantasy as well, either via Gaiman or George Martin, or Mercedes Lackey, or a combination thereof.

I may be being silly, but the idea that this an entire body work is that connected, that we're all that close to all the creators that we've enjoyed over the years makes me, I don't know,  grin ?

Maybe I should give the lady a go, she can't be any worse than the 40K drek I'm reading now!
mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)
Last night I went and purchased high quality cotton boxers from a local  manufacturer (Yes it's a horrible web-site, it seems the owner agrees). It's been a long search to find anything that matched the ones I bought in India four years ago, but now I have, and they're also local, so I get to feel good about supporting local industry as well.  They're lovely, and I got them for $35 ea which is about $10 ea less than they sell for in Kirks, and comparable in price to mass produced brand name stuff, but far better quality. I also picked up a brace of matching nightshirts. 

On the way back I picked up Thai for my lady, and Bun from the station. When we got back, I discovered Tetrajak was in bed with my lady, so I told Bun, and we all piled in.

Unfortunately I had to break up the cuddles sooner than would have been preferable or the Thai would have got cold and roti is not the best when reheated.

In this case it , it was all quite platonic, as they say, but I am so glad that we are all in the sort of relationship space where I can write paragraphs like the one two above, and it is defintiely does not signal the start of a long string of recrimination and angst and anger.

For some reason I'm drawn back to The Sisters of Mercy (the original Cohen song, not the band named after it) :

And you won't make me jealous if I hear that they've sweetened your night
We weren't lovers like that and besides, it would still be all right

I suppose I just wanted to say life is good.


mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)
I finished work last Wednesday and headed home to pack and prepare, and to get washing done before leaving. With that out of the way, I drove to [ profile] seraphs_folly 's place and settled in for the night. She was excited, finding it hard to get to sleep, and I didn't really her blame her, though of course one must act blase about these things.

As our flights weren't until the early afternoon we didn't need to get up quickly so we had a long lazy awakening, followed by a leisurely drive to Courtenay Place during which almost everything that could go right with regards to the changing of traffic lights and finding parking places, did go right. We had brunch at Sweet Momma's, I had the waffles and multiple coffee's, [ profile] seraphs_folly had her normal eggsadoo and EBT, and we shared some curly fries. Finishing brunch we drove to the airport, checked in, and looked at books and DVDs.[ profile] seraphs_folly picked up the first of the Maximum Ride novels. I discovered there's both an Iain M. Banks and a Peter F Hamilton I want to read, and also that the fantasy section had been totally overwhelmed with supernatural romance novels. I don't often go to book stores you see.

Then we went through security and waited to board.[ profile] seraphs_folly commented that normally we are on opposite sides of the security barrier and it was nice to be on the same side for once. We boarded and sat down and then had to get up to let the window seat person in. When I first saw this person I was convinced that it was a slightly unshaven[ profile] fraser_by_proxy , so I said "Hi" and acted overly friendly until I realized it wasn't, and had to tell him why I was being so friendly. Still, he was cute. Later in the flight I pointed out a line in Maximum Ride I found amusing, and [ profile] seraphs_folly read it aloud, which our seat companion pointed out was potentially not a good thing to do on a plane, seeing as the line was something like "Bombs! I love bombs!".

We got to Auckland, bought donuts, and took a taxi to the Quay West, which was an older hotel, but stylish enough to have marble columns and curved stair cases with thick balustrades in the foyer. I noticed as she provided our room keys that the lady behind the counter had Kushiel's dart. The room was old but well kept, and had a great view between two towers down to the ferry terminal and the edge of "Party Central". We stood on the huge balcony and looked down on the DFS Galleria building which had fancy peeks with iron railings round them. I noticed some previous hotel guest had "scored a basket" with one of the cushions from the hotel on one of the fenced peaks. .[ profile] seraphs_folly had pre-ordered a chocolate platter for the room. After that arrived, and we had the fold-out sofa made up for R, [ profile] seraphs_folly 's very cute friend from Christchurch, we filled in time waiting for R to arrive.

When R did arrive, after the usual pleasantries, we all ate donuts and chocolate platter, becoming quite full. We decided we would take the free bus to the concert which was leaving from just up the road outside the Sky Tower, and also decided we wouldn't hurry to get there in time for JayZ, none of us being particularly keen on the fellow. R wanted to take us to dinner, and we all thought we didn;t need that much food, so the idea of Japanese was floated, and we went out to hunt a restaurant. Unfortunately for our waist-lines, as it turned out, right next door was the Kabuki teppanyaki. It had interesting solo kabuki performances on video tow watch, and it also had some wonderful sounding set menyius, and we made the mistake of committing to far too much food. It seems the ladies hadn't had full-blown teppanyaki with the egg throwing before which made for a fun meal. We were so full that we made the faux pas of trying to leave before dessert, the female maitre'd was not happy . Thanks, R, it was a lovely meal! But so much for a light Japanese meal!

We rolled up the hill to the busses and snaffled the back seat of the bus, arriving at Mt. Smart Stadium just in time to see JayZ finish off with his Linkin Park collaboration on "Numb",. We then got stit and watch the set-up for U2 which was very interesting form a technical perspective. For those familiar with Warhammer 40K, the 380 stage looked like a cross between a Tyrannid Trygon and a Slaaneshi warmachine. Without lights it was four legged monstrosity with green skin and orange nodules pierced thru the centre by a huge arcane staff. We watched as some of it's crew were winched into their dangling cockpits hanging beneath the creatures knees.

Finally the show started. At first I was worried, the wall of sound and light that was thrown at us seemed to overpower any nuance of the song, and I began to hope that the whole show was not like that. But I needn't have worried, it seems the opening number was just to sensitize people and perhaps they needed some final adjustments to deal with a stadium full of people, because after the first song things became more distinct. R and [ profile] seraphs_folly, along with much of the crowd, stood up from the beginning and started to wiggle around. I decided to pace myself, and didn't get up until a few songs in.

I really can't do justice to the entire concert here, so will focus on a few memorable moments.

The show started with David Bowie's Space Oddity and ended with Elton John's Rocket Man Overall, it was a celebration of technology, human  achievement and love.

Perhaps the most memorable moment was when Bono spoke of the loss the country had suffered at Pike River, and said that in Ireland people sang to relive their grief, and launched into One Tree Hill, whilst the video display showed the list of the missing. I doubt there was dry eye in the stadium by the time the last few words rang out without musical accompaniment :

Oh, great ocean
Oh, great sea
Run to the ocean
Run to the sea

Several times during the night Bono found it unneccessary to do much singing as the crowd did it for him, perhaps most noticeably during I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, and one of the encore numbers With Or Without You.  

At one point spotlights were directed at either end of the central tower to reflect off of giant disco balls. I forget the song because of the effect that this caused. During the set, the Auckland weather had clagged in a bit, giving some reasonably low cloud. The spotlights, designed to reflect of the disco balls also as a side effect silhouetted the upper disco ball against the clouds, and we were treated to a"Spectre of the Broken" style creation of four moons. hanging over the stadium. I don't think that description really captures the effect of what we saw, and it was hardly something that could have been planned for in the stage design, but, wow. the atmosphere it gave was uncanny.

Throughout the huge video display was used to greate effect, from the poem recited by the captain of the International Space Station floating in  free-fall after footage of his childhood playing wth rockets, to the disembodied head of a happy Desmond Tutu talking about us all coming together as one.. which of course lead into One. The 360 degree screen had been there all night, interspersing live video footage with animation and canned footage and colours and patterns, but I think anyone who hadn't seen the show before would have been surprised when the screen suddenly started coming apart and rotating as it descended downwards toward the stage creating a cone like a rocket's, in the centre of the creature that was now a spaceship as "lightning" flashed up the central tower. Lights changed the colour and texture of the creature-craft throughout, at one time purple and gold, at another mottled in camouflage green., and then covered by flickering white fire and traceries of energy like an Eldar Falcon  entering the web way. 

But all this technical wizardry didn't detract from the music it merely made it, combined with the bass pedals vibrating your chest, a complete sensory experience. in fact with the right songs, like City of Blinding Lights  and Vertigo the effects complemented the songs perfectly. I really want to buy the blu-ray of the 360degreeTour now.

Still It had to end, and with U2 hustled through the underground pipe to their waiting helicopter we started leaving the stadium. The three of us held hands to stay together in the crush, so there I was, in the centre, a cute girl on each hand, wandering thru a magical misty night in a crowd of thousands. There was a little tension getting onto the buses. The gorls got on and then I had to release R's hand as the press split us apart... it was almost like a scene from a movie, beautiful waif-like girl's hand reaching across the pack to the person whose hand she had lost grip on.. In fact, I think R's lost look was responsible for a couple of people letting me through when they might not have otherwise. But we got on board in the end and drove back to the CBD, walked down Albert St with the girls singing Auld Lang Syne, and crashed for the night.

Well, it's after midnight and that was Thursday. I'll have to cover the rest of the weekend later. I say I'll have to, because while that night would be unbeatable, the rest of the weekend was awesome in special ways, and deserves rembrancing also. 
mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)
This weekend didn't start well. Friday was a day at home sick, in which, after stumbling out of bed early in the morning, realizing I wasn't up to going into town, and ending off the obligatory emails to managers, I fell back into bed and didn't wake up again until almost 2pm. After getting up, I discovered that the week's mail had been delivered. You know how NZ Post was talking about reducing deliveries form daily to once every two days or so? It's crap, NZ post only delivers to our place, which is Not a rural delivery area once or twice a week already! I got mail that had been sent two days earlier, and mail that had been sent almost two weeks earlier, in one delivery. 

However, by the time I'd opened the mail and recorded it and and responded, etc. It was almost the end of the day. I vegetated and caught up with my YooNo feed until [ profile] seraphs_folly turned up with my favourite Thai for dinner. It was the hi-light of the day, though It was also nice that a number of people commiserated on my whine about being sick.  I did however, get most of the washing done throughout the course of the day, seeing as that's something that doesn't take much effort when you have a machine for it.

Saturday I slept in without any getting up until 11.30pm. There was shopping needed, so I got washed and went and did it, but by the time I got back I felt wasted, and really didn't feel up to the drive over the hill to Gynn & Holly's ceremony. Apologies guys, I'm sorry to have missed your special day, especially considering what people have been saying about it since, but potentially ruining it with vomit would not have been a good look.

Several hours later, I was felling a bit better so  I went and picked up [ profile] seraphs_folly to go to a farewell party at the Southern Cross for her artist who was returning to France. Even that was probably was a little beyond me, especially as there was some sort of French music festival on, and The Cross  was packed and very loud. It took all of my energy just to avoid running and hiding from the crowd or reacting in flight-or-fight mode, so I wasn't good company. I couldn't face real food, so just ate some garlic bread and some wedges. I did perk up a bit though when I realized that somehow I'd managed to do my normal thing of being surrounded by cute girls (six of them this time). 

After a while there we walked down the road to [ profile] sokky & Lee's 70th party at the Fringe, waving at [ profile] allyn thru the window at Wildilocks on the way. The karaoke party was less hectic and I could manage it a lot better. Saw [ profile] giffy_doll 's  rendition of "Big Spender", among others., and
[ profile] sproke_ina_can 's boots Liked catching up with people, but was still glad when we left. We were in bed not long after, watching  a couple of episodes of Fringe to wind-down. Sleep was bitsy and the dreams were vivid and strange.

I was a Doctor Who co-operating with a whole pile of other Doctors to foil the big bad who ws trying to destroy the universe. I had become convinced that one of the Doctors was actually the big bad, and at the last minute has realized that we all needed to get out of the Tardis as the renegade Doctor was using it as a trap to catch and kill us all.

I raced out the door of the Tardis yelling to the other that hey needed to get out, but as I exited the renegade Doctor acted hitting me with a gob of white acidic substance from some sort of gun that knocked me to the ground and burned like fuck. As the white goop began to dissolve my body I realized that once the Tardis door closed the other doctors would be trapped, so I tried to block the door of the Tardis with my leg, but the other Doctors were not leaving, I tried to get their attention but all I could do was scream in a muffled way as my body dissolved...

That woke me up. I think I may have actually made a few real-world muffled screams. Later in the evening I woke up worried about being trapped under a landslide to find two cats lying on me, Rosie on my groin and Lilly on my chest. The large fluffy white tail in my face was probably what woke me. There were other odd snatches of dream between bursts of wakefulness, and by the time I got kicked out of bed to shower for brunch I still could have slept for several more hours. 

I safely got to Courtenay Place and  got a park, despite driving in a bit of a daze. Brunch was a tearful affair due to saying goodbye to the French couple, but there was a lot of Leonard Cohen played. along with some Roxy Music and the Cat People theme from Bowie. Afterwards we got to visit [ profile] danjite  & [ profile] khaybee in their new house, which was lovely. It was good to see their art & curios out, and to taste the yummy bread [ profile] khaybee was making for their Thanksgiving dinner.

[ profile] seraphs_folly  headed home and I headed out to Newtown for Alice's Enlightenment-era D&D and game. My character spent most of the  session hallucinating from a hallucinogenic poison in a chest trap and deaf from a failed usage of  gunpowder weapons, both events which happened last session. It was however quite fun being completely useless and not understanding what people were saying. Alice has a wicked way of describing what my hallucinating character was experiencing. But despite a comedy of errors, we all managed to survive, win,  and more-or-less do the right thing.

I dropped in on [ profile] seraphs_folly  on the way home, finding her in the middle of her Firefly re-watch with S, left them to it and picked up some buns from the pantsu for tommorrow's lunch, came home and wrote this up, because for some reason I felt like writing before bed. 

I titled this as a a "fail weekend", as I didn't achieve many things I'd planned to, and often I wasn't good company, and that's what  it felt like to me when I sat down and started writing, but in reading back over it, while being really sorry I missed the Rickersby's ceremony, and while some of it was sad, and some of it was nauseous or sleepy, there are quite a number of lovely little bits in there. Even the sad bits were lovely.

I think I like my life. Even when I'm ill and not I'm thinking I'm doing well, it's pretty special.

Thanks everyone for being who they are.
mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)
I'm not at Speed Of Sound tonight, for a variety of reasons. Mainly, I think, because I'm in a bit of hermit mode.

Work is difficult. Not in a bad way. For the first time in a long time I'm actually being challenged by what I'm doing. A week or so ago I was actually trying to solve simultaneous equations in anger, working on a Java-script image manipulation package that the customer wanted rubber-band zoom added to.

This week I've been trying to chase down bugs in part of a RichFaces web application that has a more complicated UI than any native code GUI application I've worked on in the past. It doesn't help that the toolkit's only have very rudimentary documentation, and while they state how to use individual UI widgets, they don't state what happens when you put together a whole pile of them together in a highly ajax-ified page with multiple display areas updating separately. Every time I find and fix one bug, the fix causes other stuff to stop working, and what doesn't help is that I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that there are significant bugs in the tool-kits as well.

Still at least I'm not bored at work.

Thing is when I've actually been using my mind, I end up feeling like doing nothing but blobbing when I get home. I've fallen asleep on the train on the way home most nights this week. 

The time of year doesn't help either. Cold, always getting dark while traveling home, dark when I get up. My body is telling me it's hibernation time.

Finally I think I'm becoming more boring and stay-at-home. I actually enjoued Coronation Street this evening, and wouldn't have wanted to miss the episode where a killer's wife confronts her husband about killing her lover several months ago.  I think I'm finally turning into an old man. 

OTOH, last night I did have dinner with two sexy ladies, jumped into a hot tub with those two and another lady, and then watched the 20:20 program on burlesque with a commentary from the three ladies because they knew most of the women on the show due to having studied with them.  

So maybe there may be some hope left for me.   :)
mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)
Passing this on as a public service :
New Credit Card Scam

This one is pretty slick since they provide YOU with all the information, except the one piece they want.

Note, the callers do not ask for your card number; they already have it... This information is worth reading. By understanding how the VISA & Master Card Telephone Credit Card Scam works, you'll be better prepared to protect yourself.

One of our employees was called on Wednesday from 'VISA', and I was called on Thursday from 'Master Card'.. The scam works like this: Caller: 'This is (name), and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA. My Badge number is 12460. Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify. This would be on your VISA card which was issued by (name of bank). Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a Marketing company based in ?'

When you say 'No', the caller continues with, 'Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. This is a company we have been watching and the charges range from $297 to $497, just under the $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement, the credit will be sent to (gives you your address), is that correct?'

You say 'yes'. The caller continues - 'I will be starting a Fraud investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 1- 800 number listed on the back of your card (1-800 -VISA) and ask for Security.'

You will need to refer to this Control Number. The caller then gives you a 6 digit number. 'Do you need me to read it again?'

Here's the IMPORTANT part on how the scam works.

The caller then says, 'I need to verify you are in possession of your card'. He'll ask you to 'turn your card over and look for some numbers'. There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are part of your card number, the next 3 are the security Numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card. These are the numbers you sometimes use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card. The caller will ask you to read the 3 numbers to him. After you tell the caller the 3 numbers, he'll say, 'That is correct, I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other questions?' After you say No, the caller then thanks you and states, 'Don't hesitate to call back if you do', and hangs up. You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell you the Card number..
But after we were called on Wednesday, we called back within 20 minutes to ask a question.. Are we glad we did! The REAL VISA Security Department told us it was a scam and in the last 15 minutes a new purchase of $497..99 was charged to our card.

Long story - short - we made a real fraud report and closed the VISA account. VISA is reissuing us a new number. What the scammers want is the 3-digit PIN number on the back of the card, don't give it to them. Instead, tell them you'll call VISA or Master card directly for verification of their conversation. The real VISA told us that they will never ask for anything on the card as they already know the information since they issued the card! If you give the scammers your 3 Digit PIN Number, you think you're receiving a credit. However, by the time you get your statement you'll see charges for purchases you didn't make, and by then it's almost too late and/or more difficult to actually file a fraud report.

What makes this more remarkable is that on Thursday, I got a call from a 'Jason Richardson of Master Card' with a word-for-word repeat of the VISA scam. This time I didn't let him finish. I hung up! We filed a police report, as instructed by VISA. The police said they are taking several of these reports daily! They also urged us to tell everybody we know that this Scam is happening.

Please pass this on to all your family, friends and neighbours. By informing each other, we protect each other.

Pretty obvious really, but people are easily fooled by social engineering attacks like this, and knowing the pattern makes it more likely you'll recognize it
mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)
From this article by Rob Oram, discussing  a recent KPMG report on why farming in New Zealand is going to go bankrupt :
They farm for capital gain, not income. The game for many of them, particularly in dairy and kiwifruit, is to pile on debt to accumulate as much land as possible. They are content with low income along the way because they plan to make their big tax-free killing from capital gains when they sell out.

But this damages their competitiveness in two ways. First, their high interest bills mean they generate insufficient cash to reinvest in the business. MAF estimates a dairy farm with 392 cows, the average for the national herd, will run a cash deficit of $15,500 in the current season and notched up a $50,500 deficit in the previous season.

Even in a typical good year the surplus might be only $35,000 or so on a business with revenues of $750,000. And any improvements in payouts or productivity are immediately capitalised in higher land prices.

This is such an insane game that dairy farmers quadrupled their debt in the past decade to $43 billion, dramatically driving up land prices in the process while the underlying profitability of the industry remained unchanged. This is a sure way to go broke, which indeed many farmers are.

It's among the reasons why people like the Crafars don't don't deserve any sympathy.


Apr. 13th, 2010 07:20 pm
mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)

Had a moment's happy remembrance on the train this morning listening to NiN's Head Like a Hole

Head like a hole, black as your soul
I'd rather die than give you control
Bow down before the one you serve
You're going to get what you deserve

My memory was of my very first vampire LARP, when I had only recently arrived back  in Wellington, a Wellington-By-Night game at Turnbull House , where I played one of the villians of the evening, part of a Sabbat motorcycle gang from Christchurch. I remember dancing with a certain classic Malkavian school-girl (who unfortunately left for other parts shortly afterwards) in the "vampire club" we were planning to blow up. I think the song must be an official Anarch anthem. 

Which reminds me, I was thinking on how band names come from other people's songs, like Sisters Of Mercy named themselves from Leonard Cohen's song, and how the local Welly band Head like a Hole named themselves from that NiN song, I've been wondering whether this line from Tori Amos'  Precious Things  has any bearing on NiN ?
No one dared
No one cared
To tell me where the pretty girls are
Those demigods
With their nine-inch nails and little fascist panties tucked inside the
heart of every nice girl

That song also has the lovely line "So you can make me cum, that doesn't make you Jesus"

I think this anthology of optimistic SF, Shine, looks promising. At the very least, just the concept of the analogy and that cover painting makes me think of story ideas. 

Am wishing I had more time for writing things even if it is just fluff like this.

mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)

Last night i slept fitfully due to a large cat walking all over me. This means I remembered a dream :

I dreamed I'd gone to a NiN concert, except that it was only Trent Reznor by himself, and it was in a classic old NZ-style school hall, i.e.: wooden floors, doubles as both gym and assembly area, capable of sitting perhaps 200 people max on wood and steel "forms" with a basic built-in stage.

Part the way thru the concert, Trent decided that he'd rather sit around with us and talk about stuff. so we all sat in a big circle on the floor of the hall and talked. It was sort of like one of those medicine lodge gatherings of men, except without the steam and sweaty naked bodies. I don't remember seeing any women.  I found myself telling Trent my life story, and he and a number of other people there responded in in kind, so by the end of it we all knew a lot about each other and were, surprisingly perhaps, getting on real well.

Finally Trent said that maybe he ought to play some more music seeing as we'd all forked out for a concert, but after a bit of discussion it turned out that everyone would rather just head off to a bar. Trent had to be reassured that this wasn't because we didn't want to listen to his music, but that just hanging out with him was more special.

In other musical experiments, has anyone else ever notice how similar the choruses of David Bowie's Queen Bitch and The Killer's Mr. Brightside are?

mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)
Haven't felt like writing. Too tired, too busy, feeling blah.

OTOH, with the busy, there's been a lot going on.

Friday we started playing [ profile] eloelei 's new Scion game, in which we all play rock stars who just happen to be the children of gods. So far, we've had a good gig,  started the band's legend as one that trashes the joint, and certain characters are starting to tweet their experiences. I'd link to the Twitter account(s), but I don't know it, maybe [ profile] jarrat_gray will oblige ?

For the first time in years, I've actually been getting rid of crap out of the rumpus room. [ profile] seraphs_folly helped me take a car load of stuff to the Sally Army, and there's a pile of boxes containing unwanted magazines and books that will be going to the Charity Book Sale guy sometime this week probably. There's a pile of cardboard in the garage to be disposed off next rubbish day. The floor is almost ready to be cleaned, and table tennis will soon become an option again.

I got rid of an ancient, Japanese-made,  judogi (that was old when I got it and wore it as a child) to a mother &  son last week.  It went for a $1 on Trade-me, and the mother, who had never won an auction for a $1 before, brought me a couple of chocolates to go with it. She didn't need to, I was already happy letting go on for $1, it's served several boys in the past, and it needs do so again.

Now all I have to do is stop getting more stuff. But the good deals... I can't pass them by!  Picked up a batch of GW stuff for $20 on Saturday that, if bought at today's prices, would have cost in the region of $300. Will probably recover my expenditure with little effort, and as it came from the grown son of a lawyer who owns what is probably a million dollar property, I didn't feel the low price mattered to them either.   Karma?

Saturday evening, [ profile] seraphs_folly and I went to see Angel, a clown-theatre event at Bats. It was entertaining. I think the bit I liked most was the newly cast-down angel enjoying playing in our rubbish.

But I have decided I really hate cats. At least, I really hate cats that spray on things. After having to deal with large amounts of cat spray in said rumpus room (for some reason anything that is a plastic bag needs to be covered in spray ), my computer died from being sprayed on. It only lasted as long as it has because the CD-ROM drive cable shielded most of the mother board from the spray. I don't know if the memory is recoverable, though the CPU probably is. I think all of the data is OK though, and I'm runing fo the 1TB back-up drive and using my work computer for now. Played Spellforce 2 on it last night, worked well.

A link or two now. Firstly, an old one but an interesting concept for the "science" behind a paranormal based role-playing game (and incidentally, provides a "scientific" basis for almost any form of real world paranormal belief), the Shadow Biosphere .  From the opening paragraph :
Astrobiologists from Arizona State University, Florida, UC Boulder, NASA, Harvard and Australia have recently theorized about a “shadow biosphere” – a biosphere within a biosphere where alternative biochemistry may be thriving in a way that we haven’t yet thought to examine. Such “weird life” may have had, for hundreds of millions of years, their own ecologies right here in our own backyard.  Indeed, like Dark Energy and neutrinos, “weird life” may be all around us even now, only in a non-obvious way. Some astrobiologists are now suggesting that “weird life” is just as likely to be found here on Earth as it is in the Martian regolith, the seas of Europa , or certainly the complex bio-hadronistry on the surface of a neutron star.

In other news, Agatha Christie's fortune of jewellery and coins worth up to £100,000 is found in an old leather case sold at auction for £100

Comics have been intruding into my life again. [ profile] asgard pointed me at an article which reveals that a NZ  woman owns a copy of Detetcive Comics #27 (the first appearance of Batman) and a number of other rare and expensive comics. I can imagine our future arguments now : "You only married me for my comics!" "No, you only married me for my comics!" . This morning, the guy wearing a tie sitting next to me on the train was reading a hard-bound library copy of Shanna the She Devil.  Train cheesecake! Maybe I need to start reading shojo manga on the train again too! 

The oracle hit me with Portishead's Undenied. this morning, so I'm passing it on 

Your softly spoken words
Release my whole desire

And so bare is my heart,             I can't hide
And so where does my heart             belong

mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Tyler)
Have been looking at an old White Dwarf, #136 from April 1991, and was impressed to read the following in the small print on the contents page :

White Dwarf is printed on paper from the Myllykoski Paper Mill, Finland. For every tree they cut down, the mill plants two more. These are farmed trees grown specifically for paper so their use doesn’t diminish the natural stocks. All Games Workshop’s boxes, cards and counters are printed using 95% recycled paper.

Rather impressive for such a magazine at the beginning of the nineties. I have my doubts that this is still the case though. given their current glossy look.

One day I'll have to make a real post.

mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)
After having reformatted my ipod and ripped all my recently acquired CD's I believe I've listened enough to Vostok Lakes' new album, Small Group Psychosis, to make comment there-on.

Retro-synthpop is one way of describing VostoK Lake's style, on the web-site it's described as "melodramatic electroclash". says "Think of the offspring of Tori Amos having hate-sex with Gary Numan", and it's hard not to think of Vince Noir when one sees those terms, but intentionally or not, Daphne Lawless is drawing on a wide range of materiel.

On listening to Kalla Kalla Amrika or the beginning of Girl Without A Past, I had to check the "Now Playing" tag, because I could have sworn I was listening to early Emerson, Lake, & Palmer. In fact Girl Without A Past sounds exactly like what might have happened if the now sadly deceased Eric Woolfson (song-writer and co-founder of The Alan Parson's Project) had written lyrics for ELP.

I think the fact that are so many attempts in the last couple of paragraphs to utilize similes to other artists shows that actually Vostok Lake has it's own unique style, sythn-pop, not because it uses synthesizers because, but because it is a synthesis.

Abomination, which I first heard what seems like years ago, is as catchy as ever, and is a nicely produced wall of sound. Mandatory for playing at full volume whenever you pass a Destiny Church. Likewise, Crawleigh In A Previous Life is an old friend. There's also an interesting cover of Leonard Cohen's Teachers.

Vostok Lake will be here Friday, playing at Happy, corner of Tory & Vivian as part of their promotional tour for Small Group Psychosis, and is The NZ Herald's Editor's Pick of the gigs this week.


Jan. 21st, 2010 09:27 am
mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)
I've known for a long time that the Sisters of Mercy song is not about vampires, but I've always thought that, with a title like Lucretia, words like "reflection", and phrases like "dancing the ghost" , it should be.

So here, courtesy of a train ride and an ipod, are the lyrics to Lucretia (the Vampire Version)
Read more... )
It turns out you don't have to change many words at all to completely change the thrust of the song.
mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)
It's four in the morning, (just after) the end of December, I'm writing you now just to see if you'll recognize the Cohen reference.

Actually by the time I post this it will probably be much later in the day. But I started it around five AM, after having got up at four due to lack of ability to sleep and fear of imminent zombie apocalypse. I spent some time fixing up spam attacks and other suspicious activity on the Mage Wiki which may help make the other sites on my server more stable, seeing as it seems to be the spurious activity on the Mage Wiki that is causing the server crashes.

It's odd activity, looks like a large number of different IPs posting short encrypted (or binary) strings. May be it's a form of bot communication? I'd be interested if anyone has heard of MediaWiki being used for anything like bot comms or similar.

Anyway, here's an (image-heavy) update under the cut )

BTW, near the end of this post there are minor spoilers for Avatar and Sherlock Holmes, so skip if you haven't seen them and wan't to maintain your purity.

Oh, also, I got a hair-cut. Supposedly I look ten years younger.
mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)
This rant brought to you by a lazy Saturday in pajamas and random blog reading..

It shouldn't be called "climate change": as climate change is a secondary effect, and is very wussy sounding. "Global  Warming" is better but still makes it sound mild and nothing worth worrying about. What we should be talking about is that the Maximum Safe Planetary Temperature for human life will soon be exceeded.

These days even most "climate change deniers" don't try to contradict the evidence of global warming, as the evidence is far too strong. Instead they merely try to claim that it's not humanity's fault, that global warming is happening regardless of what humans do. I have some sympathy for this, not much, but some. It is true that we are approaching a naturally warmer part of the Malenkov cycle, for instance.

But what these more modern deniers miss is that it doesn't really matter what the cause of the warming is, we need a global response to it. What we pump out in terms of pollutants may not be the primary cause of the underlying increase, but it's certainly not making it any better and it's something we should control for a whole pile of other, equally dire, reasons.

The thing that most people on the denier side, and even many on the pro side, don't realize is that emission control is not the point. Sure, high C02 levels can trap more energy by reducing our planet's ability to radiate it, but it's actually the output of pure heat into our atmosphere from what we do that's the real problem. Let me side-track into spaceship engineering for a moment.

Earth is a space-ship. A big, complex space ship with no obvious means of attitude control or propulsion, but still a spaceship. As any space-ship designer can tell you, there are a few main issues with making spaceships functional for their inhabitants. One is a source of energy, another is life support, and the major one, if you solve the previous two, is heat dissipation.

Our spaceship has solved the first two problems reasonably well, the first by orbiting an unshielded fusion reactor at a relatively safe distance, the second by evolving a complex biosphere that can process our waste and produce the necessary chemicals to keep us alive. The final problem, heat dissipation, is dealt with by rotating the ship, with the planet being positioned at a distance from the energy source such that excess heat can be effectively radiated during the night cycle.

Now let us talk about heat dissipation. Within our biosphere, our primary cooling mechanisms work by convection, in which the heat is transferred away from the environment you wish to cool. The heat isn't eliminated, it is merely transferred from one place to another, causing greater heat in another location. A classic example you can feel yourself is your refrigerator, it's cool inside, the heat drawn out of the inside by the convection of the coolant fluid, but the heat exchange panel on the back can get quite warm. Here, the heat is lost into the environment by radiation but the fridge still relies on convection, as the atmosphere passes over the heat exchange panel, warms up and rises. If you have no airflow around your refrigerator the environment around it will get hot, and  it will stop working effectively.

Convection requires a substance, be it water, coolant fluid, or atmosphere, to carry the heat away. Unfortunately, space is close to a vacuum, there is nothing to carry heat away from the planet, so we only loose heat from the planet via radiation. Radiation is dependent almost entirely on surface area.

Another way to deal with incoming energy causing over-heating in a space-ship is to reflect it. That's why there was so much gold reflective foil in the Apollo series landers, to reflect as much of the incoming energy as possible, as on the moon, convection is  rather limited due to the almost non-existent atmosphere. The "reflectivity" of a planet is known as it's "albedo". Earth's albedo is taken as the standard value, and is thus "1". This value means a certain percentage of incoming energy is reflected. The Earth reflects an awful lot of the energy that hits it's upper atmosphere, so we don't have to worry about it warming us up too much. We've been damaging our planet's albedo in the UV wavelengths for some time, resulting in decreased sun-burn times for those of us living near the antarctic ozone hole.

So, we have a spaceship that largely has the right albedo, is at the right distance from the sun, and the right size, to be able to effectively radiate enough heat from the surface of the planet (and when I say surface here, I mean the outer troposphere where it contacts space) such that there is a balance between the energy impinging on the planet from the sun and the energy we're losing by radiation over night, keeping the planet largely within a livable temperature range.

Of course, the above is not the whole story, some of the energy isn't radiated, it's stored for the use of organisms on the planet, to allow them to construct complex molecular chains which effectively take the heat / energy out of circulation.

Then along comes technological man that starts releasing huge quantities of the energy that has built up in complex molecular chains over millennia, over a time period of little more than a century by burning fossil fuels. Even worse, they start reducing the ability of the planet to radiate that energy during the night cycle, and they also come up with ways of releasing energy that has been stored in atoms since shortly after the big bang, and they start releasing all this energy into their previously balanced biosphere. The original balance is destroyed, because more energy / heat is being released on the planet than it is able to radiate and still be able to maintain that life-support temperature range.

This means, if we want to continue to live comfortably on this spaceship,  we have to deal with the  problem. There are only a few things we can actually do to deal with the problem of excess heat / energy. One is to increase our planet's ability to radiate heat during the night cycle. Or at the very least, stop spoiling it's natural ability to radiate heat. That's what emissions control is all about. We could also look at ways of actually increasing our spaceship's ability to radiate, but the first step is to let it do it's job properly instead of hindering it with unneccessary emissons.

Another is to reduce the amount of long-stored energy we release, in other word stop burning fossil fuels, stop making nuclear power plants, stop releasing energy that has been bound up and use only energy that is already free in the system, such as wind, wave, solar etc.

The final one, which is more sci-fi, but still perfectly workable, is to work on our planet's albedo so that it reflects more of the energy that falls on it. At the very least, we could try to reduce the damage we've been doing in the U/V wavelengths, by trying to repair, or at least prevent any increases in, the ozone hole. There are other good reasons to do this, such as preventing skin cancer, and reducing mutations to crops. Actually trying to artificially boost our albedo does have some significant potential problems, which is why it doesn't have such a high profile as other solutions, but there are people working on this one too.

What doesn't help with all this is that our biosphere has a hysteresis effect. The mass of our biosphere and it's organic parts has a sort of inertia to temperature change. This is a good thing, as it helps damp small changes, such as those caused by the Malenkov cycles and our non-circular orbit, but unfortunately tends to hide large changes to begin with. In other words if the temperature increases by a dangerous amount right now, it will take some years for the full effects of that change to become manifest. Equally, if we start doing things to control the temperature, it will take similar amounts of time to bring the temperature back within the safe range. This is what drives the urgency of those who are pushing for temperature control, by the time the change is such that no-one can deny it, and millions are dying, it will take even longer to reverse the process.

The points I'm trying to make here are that firstly  humanity's effect on the temperature of the planet is not _just_ via carbon emissions. The well-documented ozone holes growing over our poles reduce our albedo in the U/V range and add to the problem, as does our releasing of the energy contained in atoms or long molecule chains, via the use of nuclear power and burning fossil fuels. Each of those three sources of warming, and potentially a number of others, such as catalysing certain uncommon chemical reactions, are adding to the problem of excess heat in our biosphere, and this may also be being compounded by certain natural effects, such as the Malenkov cycles.

The second, and main, point is that regardless of the underlying cause of global warming, for our species to survive comfortably on the planet we need to ensure a rather narrow surface temperature range is maintained.  We would be in just as much trouble if we were experiencing a three degree overall temperature decrease, (such as that which people believe might occur in the event of a "nuclear winter." It's insulation of our spaceship's temperature from large deviations either way that is important, and not being planetary engineers on the scale of ring-world builders, we have limited tools to work with.  

It is completely irrelevant which of those mechanisms listed above are the primary cause of the build-up of excess energy in our biosphere, or even if other mechanisms I haven't mentioned here, or which we as a species don't know about yet, are primarily responsible; we still have to do something about it if we wish to continue to live comfortably on this planet's surface.


mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)

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